Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What a surprise! Sam Hoffman's intelligent, satisfying generation-gap/old-age comedy, HUMOR ME

Down here in South Florida, we get perhaps more than our share of senior-citizen movies opening in local theaters. And why not? That's where we seniors do tend to congregate. So it comes as almost a shock when one of those movies -- in this case, HUMOR ME, written and directed by Sam Hoffman -- turns out to be a real winner: smart, often surprising, written, directed and acted with skill and flair, and above all else genuinely funny. What is particularly oddball and amusing about the film is how (and how well) Mr. Hoffman uses old-fashioned (but still funny) jokes -- both the telling of them and the visual creating of them via the use of black-and-white cinematography (think of those 40s film noir) -- as both the entry-way into and the very theme of his movie.

Never forget, the writer/director (pictured at left) seems to be telling us throughout this little low-key gem, exactly how important a good joke can be. He and his film prove this in spades. Humor Me is the tale of a blocked (in many ways) middle-aged playwright, Nate Kroll, given terrific life by that fine New Zealand actor, Jemaine Clement (above and below, right, of What We Do in the Shadows and People Places Things), who manages to be funny, sad, schlocky, sexy and lots more while always utterly believable. When events suddenly coalesce to the point where our hero has nowhere else to go, he must move into the rather upscale and not unpleasant retirement village in New Jersey with his dad (played in unusually reticent and quite smart fashion by Elliott Gould, at left, below and on poster, top).

Once there, Nate meets a whole raft of interesting and often funny characters, brought to life by as good a cast of seniors as has been assembled in quite some time. Better yet, Mr. Hoffman gives them all enough character and wit to make them fun to be around. While the filmmaker deals with the usual cliches about the elderly, he manages to turn enough of them on their ear so that we laugh and eagerly follow along.

Smartly, Mr. Hoffman has created an inter-generational movie, rather than merely one about seniors, and the middle-aged adults here get to shine as brightly as do the aged. Nick meets the daughter (Ingrid Michaelson, above) of another senior on premises and even gets roped into "directing" a very mini-mini version of The Mikado (below) -- the result of which provides the movie with its absolutely delightful, refreshing and very funny climax.

Yes, OK: This is not great movie-making in any regard. And yet, when compared to some of the really awful stuff we've been subjected to down here over the past couple of years that TrustMovies and spouse have been living in Florida -- Silver Skies and Year by the Sea come immediately to mind --  Humor Me seems very nearly Oscar-worthy.

With supporting roles filled ever-so-nicely by actors such as Priscilla Lopez (second from left, above), Rosemary Prinz (center right, above), Le Clanché du Rand (second from right, above) and Willie C. Carpenter, the movie fairly zings along on its humor, heart and smarts. A word must also be said for actor Joey Slotnik, who plays Zimmerman, the subject of all the movie's black-and-white-photographed jokes. He, like so much else here, is a consistent delight.

From Shout Studios and running just 93 minutes, Humor Me -- after opening in New York and Los Angeles a week or so back -- hits South Florida this Friday, January 26, in Miami at AMC Aventura, in Fort Lauderdale at The Classic Gateway Theater, The Last Picture Show in Tamarac, Regal Shadowood in Boca Raton and at The Movies of Delray  To view all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters, click here.
Humor yourself and go see this one.

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